Yevgeny Prigozhin is preparing to pull his Wagner Group mercenaries’ attention away from the war in Ukraine, according to a Bloomberg report that cites sources familiar with the matter.
His current plan is to focus the private mercenaries’ focus back to countries in Africa, such as Sudan, Mali, and the Central African Republic, where Wagner has deployed forces. On Monday, Wagner posted a recruitment notice offering deployments to African countries would last between nine to 14 months, Bloomberg reported.
The apparent decision to recalibrate Wagner operations in Ukraine comes after a series of setbacks Wagner has faced in trying to work with the Russian government to wage war in Ukraine. Prigozhin, who enlisted private mercenaries from prison, was blocked in recent weeks from recruiting from prisons. His colleague was also recently barred from accessing Russia’s military command in Ukraine.
Tensions have spilled over into the public eye as well. Wagner Group has also had to resort to pleading with Russia in various videos posted to social media to provide more ammunition they said was desperately needed to try to fight in Ukraine, to no avail.
It’s not clear how quickly the changes will go into effect. Evidence has emerged this week that suggests Wagner Group is still fighting in southern Bakhmut as well as Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Bohdanivka, and in the direction of Predtechyne, according to the Institute for the Study of War.
Though Wagner Group has been working to flood the field with personnel, Prigozhin’s army has so far failed to capture Bakhmut, which they have been working to seize for months.
Wagner Group’s efforts have not been particularly successful. Tens of thousands of Wagner fighters have died, according to a Russian non-governmental organization.
The White House National Security Council characterized the losses in and around Bakhmut as “an extraordinary cost” for Russia.
The Wagner Group has at times blamed those failures on Russia’s idle efforts to help out Wagner with supplies.
“We appeal to our colleagues and friends from the Ministry of Defense. We are confident there is this ammunition somewhere in the stockpiles, and we need them acutely… We will do the work for you—help us with ammunition,” some Wagner fighters said in a recent video on social media.